Nitrogen deposition in tropical forests from savanna and deforestation fires
Document Type: Journal Article
Author(s): Y. Chen; J. T. Randerson; G. R. van der Werf; D. C. Morton; M. Q. Mu; P. S. Kasibhatla
Publication Year: 2010

Cataloging Information

  • Africa
  • agriculture
  • air quality
  • Amazon
  • Asia
  • atmospheric transport
  • biomass
  • biomass burning
  • biomass burning
  • carbon
  • combustion
  • Congo
  • deforestation
  • ecosystem dynamics
  • fire frequency
  • fire management
  • forest management
  • fuel management
  • global carbon cycle
  • Hadley circulation
  • human caused fires
  • nitrogen
  • nitrogen limitation
  • pyrodenitrification
  • remote sensing
  • savannas
  • slash
  • slash and burn
  • soils
  • South America
  • Southeast Asia
  • tropical forests
  • volatilization
  • wildfires
  • International
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: June 1, 2018
FRAMES Record Number: 48609
Tall Timbers Record Number: 24782
TTRS Location Status: Not in file
TTRS Call Number: Not in File
TTRS Abstract Status: Okay, Fair use, Reproduced by permission

This bibliographic record was either created or modified by the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy and is provided without charge to promote research and education in Fire Ecology. The E.V. Komarek Fire Ecology Database is the intellectual property of the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy.


We used satellite-derived estimates of global fire emissions and a chemical transport model to estimate atmospheric nitrogen (N) fluxes from savanna and deforestation fires in tropical ecosystems. N emissions and reactive N deposition led to a net transport of N equatorward, from savannas and areas undergoing deforestation to tropical forests. Deposition of fire-emitted N in savannas was only 26% of emissions -- indicating a net export from this biome. On average, net N loss from fires (the sum of emissions and deposition) was equivalent to approximately 22% of biological N fixation (BNF) in savannas (4.0 kg N ha-1 yr-1) and 38% of BNF in ecosystems at the deforestation frontier (9.3 kg N ha-1 yr-1). Net N gains from fires occurred in interior tropical forests at a rate equivalent to 3% of their BNF (0.8 kg N ha-1 yr-1). This percentage was highest for African tropical forests in the Congo Basin (15%; 3.4 kg N ha-1 yr-1) owing to equatorward transport from frequently burning savannas north and south of the basin. These results provide evidence for cross-biome atmospheric fluxes of N that may help to sustain productivity in some tropical forest ecosystems on millennial timescales. Anthropogenic fires associated with slash and burn agriculture and deforestation in the southern part of the Amazon Basin and across Southeast Asia have substantially increased N deposition in these regions in recent decades and may contribute to increased rates of carbon accumulation in secondary forests and other N-limited ecosystems. © 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Chen, Y., J. T. Randerson, G. R. van der Werf, D. C. Morton, M. Q. Mu, and P. S. Kasibhatla. 2010. Nitrogen deposition in tropical forests from savanna and deforestation fires. Global Change Biology, v. 16, no. 7, p. 2024-2038. 10.1111/j.1365-2486.2009.02156.x.